Smartboards, Mobile Servers, and Apartments

I am on IM with one of my best friends right now, and mentioned to him that I really need to look at getting a smartboard, instead of another (static) whiteboard (I’ve got three of them, two hanging). See, I use whiteboards as a means to brainstorm, goal-set, and flat out dream in ink. And having it connected to my mobile would be futuristic, but would also be quite productive.

This is a scenario that I spoke about to LJ:

the smartboard needs to connect to my mobile (since mobile is the hub here)… use mobile web server in a local mode and then writings on smartboard turn into images posted to a private gallery so that I can use them… use gestures and shapes (like writing an event and circling it) for it to append to a calendar/task/note

Yea, that idea of the mobile device being a server coming up again – not like you are tired of hearing me talk about that one 😛

Thing is, here’s a situation where it works, and works really well. As I showed in one of my previous posts, I already do a good job of using certain accessories with my mobile in order to stay (mostly) productive. Stretching this metaphor of connectivity and fluid information would add the accessory of a smartboard. You see, the smartboard would be something like a post-it area, but at the same time I’d use gestures and ink as a means to initiate that information being shared to my mobile – and then from the mobile to people I’d like to share content/life with.

Honestly, depending on the cost, I think I’d be able to pull this off pretty well. And if the smartboard could connect to my mobile’s Wi-Fi connection (ad-hoc mode with JoikuSpot), then I’d essentially have that hub in effect. The harder part would be coding the connection and workflow from the smartboard to the mobile web server. That part would be something worth playing a bit more with in thought and architecture.

Given that I’m single and live in an apartment, this kind of choice works great – it would probably work nice in a home office for those with a few more commitments around the house. The mobile playing as the center of this works really, really well. I wonder about things like data formats and such for scribbled documents – they would need to be in some vector-based format. And overall, this would need to be as simple as picking up a marker and drawing – even with the gestures.

Yea, this can work. I need to shop and do homework. This is not your father’s home computer (or even your neighbor’s most probably, hehehe), nor their interactions. This is taking the context of what’s doable today, and making the tech fit it, not me fit the tech. Oh yea, I’m geeked out on this one too.

Products of Incubation

I’d like to think that I can, or at least will, move past the point where computing is such a task that I’m more or less geeked out with enabling people, instead of always knick-knacking solutions together. I admit, part of it is how my brain works, and – well – that will continue for a while longer.

And so back to that idea of innovation being incubated here. What does that look like? I mean really. What does it look like for someone to say that innovation will happen in the course of their life on purpose, not because they stumble on something?

Small admission, innovation really is stumbling on something; though one can foster it in how they live, think, write, act, etc. and create more opportunities to see and take advantage of it…

I like to think that innovation means that life gets simpler. If you will, that there are some conscious and active steps that must be taken in order for people to realize that change can be a good thing (in most contexts).

Take the iPad as an example. Some people like it. Some people loathe it. Some are indifferent. I’ve gone all over the place with my opinions, but one thing is clear – its in its simplicity that its innovative. And that innovation is felt in the context of the users that its targeted towards. Geeks will miss it. And that’s a good thing. Innovation comes differently to them.

It comes like this:

office and presentation tools - Share on Ovi

What you see there is what I call my office and presentation deck. This is what I’ll be taking with me to the BibleTech Conference, and this is what I’m making a concerted effort to use more often all around. There’s a mobile phone (the Nokia N97), Apple’s Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard, a Jawbone Prime headset, a TV-Out cable, and (the latest addition) a Zeemote Bluetooth joystick. These will combine to assist the presentation topic in showing how mobile is an enabler when used in respective contexts.

This is a geeky solution to do something simple – have a single computing device that can play computer, cable box, presentation device, phone, car navigation and stereo system, and a few other items 😉 In other words, its convergence in a way that adds some complexity, but allows me to see computing, and how productive I am, from a different point of view.

You see, its not the tools that are in the picture that are the products of innovation, its the environment and behaviors that they encourage which allow me to run up against perceptions and ask of myself the hard questions – like this one posted at MMM earlier today. Without those hard questions, the geeky things turn into chains and no one moves forward.

Innovation isn’t more systems, more processes. Its really the stripping away of all of those things that inhibit clarity. When I work on products like SharePoint, or look at solutions for time tracking and project management, I’m asking the question always of how can the fat be cut out. I ask the tools questions such as “can this be done on a mobile,” “where’s the SMS component,” “is there a dashboard that can combine several system streams of information,” and others so that I can see ability and capacity. And at the same time I’m asking that question of, “what is the stupidest question about this product or its process that someone will ask; because this system needs to be able to answer it.” When innovation can speak to these things, then it becomes relevant. However, these questions need the right environment, else they come off more like serpents instead of stars.

I prefer to think that our use of computing devices should enable us to see and do things that our forefathers dreamt of. The challenge every day is to keep my mind focused on those things that matter most, and simplify my perceptions and aims so that I can see clearer what really matters and what’s truly effective. When it comes to life for me, a lot revolves around mobile. And doing things like above helps me to see some of what the Nokias, Apples, Microsofts, and others see. Yes, there’s a cost to all of this and it must be evaluated. But, I can only do that when I set the environment, and then allow use and life to help direct the filters to which I’ll either accept or denounce that piece of life.